The First World War was a tragic time for mankind. The military was using outdated strategies against modern weapons such as machine guns, poison gas and tanks. The toll of life on both sides was incredible and horrific.
It was during the holiday season that many called for a cease fire. Pope Benedict XV had begged for a truce, or as he stated “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.” However, like all wars, calls for kindness on Christmas fell on deaf ears.
It was not politicians, or religious leaders or military generals who found a way for peace at Christmas; it was simple soldiers. Men who had not started the war, but found themselves fighting in it. These men, who had tried to kill each other, saw the love and peace of Christmas and came together as friends.
In December 1914, it happened, on Christmas Eve.
German troops began decorating the area around their trenches. They began singing carols. Hearing the carols, the British troops soon joined in. When the singing was finished, men from both sides met in the middle of the ground where they had fought. Here they shacked hands, and gave simple gifts such as tobacco to each other and wished each other a Merry Christmas.
This incredible tale of inspiration was not welcomed by everyone. Military and political leaders from both sides, fearing that seeing the enemy as a human being would be harmful in the war effort, soon condemned this act. Many of the soldiers who had participated in the truce were ridiculed and even court martialed. A corporal serving in the German Army also opposed the truce, his name was Adolf Hitler.
Today, people do not remember the names of the leaders who opposed the truce at Christmas; they do not know the names of the soldiers who had participated in it. They do remember the truce, that one act on a December night, where enemies during a war came together and forgot their differences and celebrated peace in a troubled world.
As it was then, so it is today. We live in a complicated world, with good and evil all around us. However, it is in this time of the year, where we should discard our differences and celebrate the love and peace at Christmas. This is the time that mankind celebrates the birth of Jesus, and it is a time for all of mankind to forget why we fight, why we die, and experience what it is like to live in peace, even for one night.